Ways I Want to Grow
Some days I’m a little hard on myself.
Sorry, I’m not being honest here. Most days I’m more than a little hard on myself. This isn’t something I am particularly proud of, but it’s also not something I’m in a huge hurry to change. Whilst being hard on yourself gets a really bad rep (especially in today’s self care culture, where self criticism can be seen as a radical, terrible thing to do to yourself), I don’t think it always has to be a bad thing.
If I won’t be honest with myself about where I’m lacking, where I’m falling short, or where I’m simply not trying hard enough… who will be?
If I won’t take a good hard long look at myself and recognize where I need to grow, change, improve, and flourish- and be honest about how on earth I can get there… who will?
The short answer: No one.
Because no one wants to get on your bad side by pointing that **** out! Some conversations are conversations you can only have with yourself.
Over the years, I’ve taken the whole taking a good hard look at myself malarky and made a bit of a ritual out of it. I do this whole little jig back to front and front to back every new year, every birthday, every first day of the month, every time anyone mentions the words ‘from tomorrow I will’, and I can definitely take it too far. I know this.
I also know that the only real and sustainable change I’ve ever created in my life has come at the end of a long journey or trying, failing, stopping, throwing my hands up in frustration, and then trying again the next day, and that there is still so much I have to discover about myself, so many ways I could still grow and morph and go to bed happier at night- and so I do it again.
Growing can be painful but it’s also completely and utterly necessary.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a little stagnant on the growth front.
Lately I’ve been feeling like rather than moving forward, I’m just kind of moving along sideways. Sideways can actually be a great place to be. It’s the perfect place to rest, reset, and recuperate. But you can’t hang out there too long.
I started by stepping back and trying to see myself as clearly as I could.
Seeing yourself clearly is no easy feat. We tell ourselves a lot of stories about ourselves- some good, some bad. Whilst the majority are usually unfair to us, a little overly critical, a little harsh and self deprecating- we can also fall prey to telling ourselves a lot things about ourselves that are not quite true representations of how well we’re living our lives.
And how can you blame us? With everyone watching our every move in a culture of over sharing, over comparison, and way too much introspection- seeing yourself as any thing but your best can be utterly and completely angst inducing.
But I was more than willing to take on the angst to get as close to the truth as I could.
What I learnt from sitting back and assessing myself as objectively and critically as I could possibly muster was that I was not giving every thing my 100 per cent. Far from it. I like to think of myself as pretty ‘together’ (bound to make me hugely popular I know!), because I’ve definitely taken on the idea that anything less than totally together, is a total and utter failure (not true, but more on that another day). Because of this, not giving y 100 per cent in any area at all, can really weigh on my mind. So much so that it’s almost immobilizing, and so much so that it probably causes me to waste a ton of energy that could be better spent, on trivial things like making sure my space is always painfully spotless, or my makeup is always perfectly applied, or my inbox is totally cleared, and that I’ve messaged literally all of my friends every morning to ask them how they’re doing.
I’m a perfectionist who isn’t giving her energy to the right places.
I am also a perfectionist who second guesses every new experience because it needs to be just right, so much so that new experiences become an event that’s few and far between.
This isn’t the best use of my skills, my dedication, my time, or frankly, my life.
And it needs to change.
How I Want to Grow in My Personal Life: Relationships, My Home, Myself
So naturally I sat down and made a bunch of lists.
You can’t break a perfectionist that easily people.
I started out by focusing on what the most important things in my life (to me) are: my relationships and my home. And that includes, cheesy as this might sound, my relationship with myself.
Give more time, attention, care to those I love.
When your primary ‘job description’ in life comes directly from your relationships, you can bet they're right up there at the top of your list of priorities. But yet, I feel like I could be doing so much more when it comes to the people in my life.
I daintily had a couple of relationship related goals on my New Years Resolutions list, which you can read about here, if you’re curious- but when it comes to something as broad and hard to pin down as good relationships, it can be really hard to know where to start when it comes to improving how you approach them. Like- what do I do to ensure I’m being ‘good’ at my relationships? What does that even mean?
Bringing a cookie along when I meet a friend for a coffee? Giving my husband a shoulder massage when he’s writing emails at 10PM? Celebrating Mother’s Day properly with a full out spa day and breakfast in bed (I think my mother would probably hate both).
After a bit of thought, and a lot of confusion, I’ve realized the best way I can about doing this is labelling the areas where I can grow, where I can do more, and which I know will lead somewhere down the line to ‘better relationships’: those areas, to me, are Time, Attention, and Care.
And they’re all things I can give more freely.
Time is obvious. Time is so precious to us nowadays and something we guard so very closely, that giving it up can feel super hard. Like super hard. But time is also one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone else. Time that helps them get things done that are stressing them out. Time to hang out with them. Time to the chores around the house so that they don’t have to spend their precious time on them. Time just listening. No matter how you choose to give to someone else, time will probably be involved. And it’s something I can measure and measured improvement is real improvement.
Attention is a funny one. So much of the attention we give people is half hearted, a lot of umms and ahhs inserted in the right spots. I know I’m guilty of it, and I’ll be you’re guilty of it too. So how about really doing the work and improving my relationships by giving people I love real attention. Whether or not what they’re sharing with me is something that would grab my highly stretched and over saturated head space otherwise. Feeling heard really feels awesome and that’s something I want to give more of, whether or not I get it in return! Ask questions, be present, give your loved ones attention. Easy to do, easy to know if I’m doing it more and more.
And finally, care. I honestly think being caring is like a muscle. You have to work it, you have to be consistent with it, if you want it to grow, get stronger, exert real change in your life. Care is so, so important. Feeling cared for is literally the cornerstone of a good relationship. And care is so easy to show. Message your friend first. Get some clean socks out for your partner. Make them a good wholesome meal. Remind a friend that they need to take some time out to do something for themselves that you know they’ve been putting off. Bring a little trinket along as a mini gift the next time you meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in three weeks. These little things add up and they really, really matter. And it’s so easy to know if I’m doing enough of them or not.
Ultimately I want to learn how to truly put others before me, without them having to ask, and these are the ways I can see to do jus that.
These are the ways I can see to be truly and consistently supportive. And you can bet that will lead to growth in all our relationships.
I am totally proud to call myself a home maker, but it can also be an area of deep insecurity for me. Sometimes this insecurity is valid, and other times of course, it’s totally exaggerated and unwarranted.
Nine months ago when I was a brand new bride and homeowner, yeah, it was totally warranted. I was hopeless at home. Today? It’s not as warranted, but there is still so, so much room for me to grow. People spend decades growing a home- it’s not something that comes truly easily, and it’s not as simple as scrubbing down the shower and whacking dinner in the over.
I want to give real time, attention, and care to my home as well. Home’s are much like people- they flourish with the right hands and heart tending to them.
I love my little home. I don’t spend enough time in it because it’s in Iraq, and I do spend a good chunk of time back home in Dubai or traveling (you can read more about that here), but I still love and cherish my space when I do. I mean, I made that space! I still can’t believe it. It’s a bit like a baby for me- a space I put together that I take care of and take great pride in. Maybe a bit too much pride but hey proud parents and all.
I’ve given a lot of time, care and attention to my home- from every thing down to the littlest trinket on the side tables, to how I organize my pantry (I am so cliche), to how often I do a deep clean (this is something I really think about!), but I still feel like there is so much more I could be doing for our home, and so much more I want to do to make it a home.
Since our first married space has been so transient for us with all the traveling, and back and forth- and since we have literally no family and very, very few friends where we live… it’s hard sometimes to make our little nest feel like a real proper home. And I want to take serious steps to remedy that.
You have to make the best of a less than stellar situation whenever you can- and I am determined to put in my all to make our home feel as home like as possible.
Little known secret: I used to be a bit of baker back in the day.
And I miss that. So. Very. Much.
I was big on the whole whip up something from assimilating three different recipes, throw on a ton of over the top cake decorations with little to no skill but a lot of enthusiasm, and serve it up after a grand old Instagram shoot. It used to make me really happy. And you know what? A yummy squishy warm cake makes other people happy too. And the warm scents of vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa, make your house a super welcoming place to come home too.
I need to make proper use of all those cake stands I was gifted at our wedding. It’s practically immoral not to.
Cooking, baking, cleaning, lighting candles to scent your home- these all seem like really trivial, silly things; things that you can get around to when you have time. But they’re the very fabric of what takes a space and elevates it into a home. And I want to elevate my space into a home as much as I possibly can. And if that means that I need to put more time, more planning, and more elbow grease (also more hundreds of thousands) into my everyday- then so be it.
Pass the piping bag.
And finally- I feel a deep need to educate myself. And a deep need to pay attention to myself. And to my needs- whatever they might be.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself. I spend a lot of time berating myself- but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, or what I might need. I know in a sense this runs counterintuitively to what I wrote above, about being honest and critical of my own failings and what not- but at the same time, I don’t want to be a total monster to myself. I am well aware that I need to treat myself as a human being as well and that when I’m taken care of, I’ll be better able to care for others too.
And now for my blog. Diversifying, Meaning, Exploring.
I love blogging.
I don’t need to go on about that, I’ve definitely talked about it before, and you can see why I love it so much here.
But I also can fall into a lot of blogging funks, and the reason for that, time and again, is not because I’ve fallen out of the love with the process, but because I’ve fallen out of love (or I’m going through a rough patch), with what I’m blogging about. This can change week to week, day to day. Sometimes I’m super excited to write about something, and then when the day comes to get it out in words, and I’ve got my grande iced latte in hand, I sit down to find myself utterly uninspired and completely deflated.
I think that’s normal.
You’re lucky if you love what you do- but you don’t have to love it all the time.
But rather than just accept the ebbs and flows as a part of the natural cycle of creating anything, I really want to work with all my might towards creating a space that I love creating for.
That’s all about the content for me.
I want to feel really proud of every single piece of content I produce (probably an impossible or near impossible task, but I’ll try to get as close as I can). For me this means three things: diversifying my content, exploring new types of content, and sticking to creating content that has meaning (it doesn’t have to be deep, but it does have to be helpful in some way, to some one, even if sometimes that someone is just me).
Is this going to be an easy task every week? No. But it’s how I’ll feel like I’m using this space to actually grow.
Up that app game!
When I first created a blog like ten years ago, it was pretty… tough. There wasn’t much out there to make your blog look amazing, make your content look slick and professional, cut down the sheer number of hours it took to edit a single photograph (if you even did edit your photographs!).
Now- we’re playing a totally different game here.
There is so much out there to help you make, produce, create, excel… it’s kind of mind boggling. But each app can be a whole new world in itself- and there’s so much choice out there. Frankly, the fact that I’m not making as much use of it as I could, really stresses me out! I’ve got a folder full of apps I want to get to and make work for me, and I need to make this more of a priority. I’m fairly happy with how a lot of my content comes out- but I know I could quite easily and quite affordably, improve it that little bit more. And I intend to do just that.
Courses, groups, mentors, argh!
And finally- boy are we lucky to be bloggers in this age of support. There are such huge support systems out there for bloggers, from coaches and mentors to membership groups and newsletters, podcasts to courses… there’s just so many ways to feel nurtured, cared for, assisted, aided… so many ways to learn and grow.
And right now, I am not taking advantage of half as many as I should.
So that needs to change. Course galore, here I come!
How am I going to get there? Baby steps.
And there you have it- the ways I want to grow right now.
I’m hoping by focusing on growing myself and my life I’ll be able to look back in a few months or a year and literally not recognize how far I’ve pushed myself to come- how do you want to grow in the coming months?